The Lamps Are Out

Every now and then I open the book
by Agee and Evans about those tenants
in the summer of 1936 living not far
from the geographic center
of the North American cotton belt

**All over Alabama the lamps are out**

Two stores, four houses at a crossroads
called Madrid, seven miles to Cookstown,
which landlords and tenants call home
and where three hundred souls reside

Children in school there stay alive
by one form or another of cowardice
or brutality or deception taught
by sick women or sicker men
devoid of natural honesty and vigor

by Michael Pruchnicki

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